The heat is on for the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) elections scheduled for Sunday, April 10, where candidates will be contesting for one trustee seat. Yazdi Desai, current BPP chairman says, “I think there should be a turnout of around 9,000 for this one. Last October when we had elections for five trustees, we had those many in the electorate.”

Nariman Dhatigara and Rayomand Joshi
Nariman Dhatigara and Rayomand Joshi

Community periodicals and websites have names of the five candidates: Armaity Rustom Tirandaz, Arnavaz Jal Mistry who have been BPP trustees earlier, and Eric Nariman Dhatigara, Kersi Gustad Sethna and Ervad Rayomand Burzor Joshi, who have thrown their hat into the ring for the first time.

BPP elections at Khareghat Colony (Hughes Road) in October last year
BPP elections at Khareghat Colony (Hughes Road) in October last year

With three new candidates in the fray, one would think that the Parsis, always stressing that younger, newer persons should come forward to take part in community-centric affairs would be happy. Yet, Desai says, “These are contesting for fame. Candidates should come into the fray, with some grassroots work experience, they should have done some community service or at least be known to have taken a stand on a certain issue.”

Desai also stated that one of the candidates, Dhatigara, “Is an NCP worker. He has political affiliations, something we should avoid in the BPP.”

Dhatigara (48) comes with a strong political backing as the general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) minority cell, and sees himself as a strong contender.

Dhatigara shoots back saying he is the only one who can bring about, ‘real change’ in the community. The Colaba resident adds, “The current BPP has done nothing for the community. Only people like me, who have political experience can do something. I have already initiated a push for a central and state representation for Parsis and a special Board, on the lines of the Wakf board for Muslims to take care of all property matters,” he stated. Dhatigara, added that the massive support for contenders like Arnavaz Mistry and Armaity Tirandaz, given their trusteeship in the past, is no deterrent. He says combatively, “I have faith in the community. They are tired of these trustees who talk, but don’t act,” he said.

Ervad Rayomand Burjor Joshi is confident that he will win this one. He simply says, “I think the BPP needs a mix of both experienced and dynamic trustees and I am confident that the community will see it that way.”

With misgivings about some candidates even before votes are cast, it is interesting to see if the Panchayat will stay united, if any of them are voted to power.

Desai says, “It is so important that we are united. Of course, there is place for dissension within, but overall, our perspective must be similar.” Desai adds that young Parsis, “Need to hold us accountable by raising issues and questioning us through community media. Police us and be tough, so that we deliver, for it is human nature to perform better when under scrutiny,” signs off the chairman.

The BPP will put up polling booths from 10 am to 7 pm at Cusrow Baug Colaba, Khareghat Colony, Hughes Road, Dadar Parsi Colony, Rustom Baug Byculla, and Bharucha Baug in Andheri.

- Inputs by Apoorva Puranik